Decking Finishes

When you have a great new decking feature installed in your garden you will obviously want to take great care of it. Using a good decking stain can really bring out the natural wood grains in your boards and help to keep your deck in top condition. Top quality stains will improve your decks resistance to the weather and help it to look great for years to come.


Decking finishes and stains are available in a range of colours that complement and enhance the natural wooden grain in the decking boards. Typical colours include:

Different Deck Board Colour Choices

Different Deck Board Colour Choices

  • Country Oak
  • Golden Cedar
  • Rich Mahogany
  • Rustic Pine
  • Mountain Green
  • Rich Teak

A good way to choose the best colour for your deck is to apply a sample pot of stain to a spare piece of off-cut decking and see which one looks best.


Before you apply some decking stain to your deck it needs to be clean, dry and in good condition. A newly installed deck will just need a quick brush down first to remove any muck. However an older deck might need to be power-washed or sanded first.

Apply stain to a deck in a particular order – the last thing that the painter wants to do is find they are stuck in the corner waiting for the stain to dry! We recommend staining in this order:

  • Lattice
  • Balustrades and pickets
  • Benches and planters
  • Floor – working towards the stairs
  • Stairs
  • Any other bits and exposed frame

Apply the stain with a roller or brush, just like paint. For larger areas, a sprayer will be faster but it will take extra time to mask the area around the deck to prevent splashes. The best solution might be to use a brush for the edges and fiddly bits and a sprayer to fill in the larger floor areas. 

Typically, a coat of stain will last for about two to three years before it needs to be tackled again with another application. More extreme weather, such as long period of heavy rain, snow and intense sunlight, will reduce the time between applications. This might sound like a lot of work but compared with maintining a lawn it is quick and simple. You can of course not bother with restaining but this will reduce the life of your deck and the pleasure you get from it.

Other Considerations

A warm dry day is best for applying decking stain. The temperature should be above 10oC, but drying time will be faster when it is warmer. In colder weather it will be slower to dry and you can end up with a sticky finish. If it is too hot (above 35oC) the stain will not penetrate the wood completely. Both temperature extremes can result in unattractive lap marks in the stain.

The end grains, where the boards have been cut, need to be completely saturated in decking finish. This will help to protect the vulnerable areas from splitting and other damage.